Downtown DC has never impressed me gastronomically. No good pho, no good ramen. Just deli after deli, and none impressive. Arlington and Falls Church are on a different plateau of cuisine, but DC has been lukewarm.
But nestled on the other side of my office building hides a hole in the wall that blew my mind and digestive tract (in the best of ways). This hole in the wall has a simple name – Greek Deli – and it serves, yes, Greek food. The best damn Greek food in the city. Authentic, home-made quality, it’s all there.
I love Greek food, but don’t know much about it. While interning at the Department of Commerce, I was inevitably addicted to the gyro sandwich in the cafeteria. The price-quantity ratio met any law student’s needs, and the gyro and tzatziki were perfect. But my knowledge and experience of Greek cuisine ends there.
Until I met Kostas Fostieris and Greek Deli.
For weeks, I walked by this hole, curiously eying the endless line of starving souls and wondering, what the hell could be cooking in that hole! Fifty degrees, and freezing in sleet rain, folks were still lining up, shivering, but with mad anticipation! For what? For authentic spanakopita, Greek meatballs, and Athenian pastitsio.
My inner voices were brawling until the bitter end (insert clip of Biden vs Ryan VP debate here). As the line steadily approached the register, I was frantic – gyro platter or Greek combo! Any Greek joint I visit, I always try the gyro; that is the measuring stick for Greek-worthiness. But the pungent smell of baked cheese and oozing meatballs was more convincing than Biden’s wise-ass smirk.
My virgin tongue squirmed in ecstasy. The spanakopita was so fresh, the feta perfectly complimenting the spinach. Superb baking. The meatballs were moist and flavorful – a lot more herbs and spices than the typical Italian meatballs. The pastitsio was rich but controlled, creamy and lush. And as a bonus, the orzo underneath these foods of the gods soaked up all the juices and sauces – every grain had to be consumed, none to waste.
And the sheer volume of food. It’s always a good sign when you pick up that to-go bag and you ask yourself, did someone just drop a law school casebook in there? Heavy is good. Kostas’ food is dense in flavor, rich, filling – like home. I guess I’d feel at home if I was Greek. But nonetheless, a homey feeling for everyone.
No doubt in my mind that I will try the gyro next time. And no doubt in my mind that Kostas will please me with his gyro in all ways fathomable.